Kyle From Outer Shell’s Mikkelsen Drop Bar MTB

How a “maker” builds their personal bike says a lot about how their mind works. For Kyle from Outer Shell, a bag manufacturer in the San Francisco Bay Area, that means go with time-proven staples and splurge on the important places. Kyle’s Mikkelsen is unique, to say the least, but every moment, every bolt, every component has been thought out, down to the cantilever arm, machined to hold his Sinewave Beacon light and Hite Rite dropper.

This bike began its life as a MTB, which then Kyle used as a platform for an all-rounder, town bike and tourer. After ditching the clapped suspension fork for a rigid Surly fork, he used Rival Shifters, mated with an XO front derailleur and a 2x mtb crank to supply crisp shifting on his drop bars. Mounted on the Pass and Stow rack is a prototype Outer Shell rack bag, which Kyle just finished testing on the Stagecoach 400 route.

The thing I find most striking are the multi-colored, “Harlequin” Paul Klamper brakes, made from random anodized bits. When I asked Kyle about the brakes, he exclaimed how important it was to him to support other makers in the cycling industry. Plus, the brakes just look damn slick!

We see a lot of drop bar MTB conversions over here, but this one is one of my personal favorites. Follow Kyle on Instagram and check out his great bags at Outer Shell.

  • boomforeal

    i like seeing old bikes being given a second life. this one looks well ridden and well loved

    • benreed

      So much better than the latest $800 paint job.

  • The Harlequin Klampers are so good!

  • Adam H

    Is that an old Hite Rite or are there new ones being made?

    • Old for sure.

    • boomforeal

      oh i can’t wait until luaP brings a new Hite Rite to market, the perfect retro grouch upgrade for the hipster shred shed that had everything

  • Sebastian Burnell

    is this a former cantilever brake frame?

  • David Kessler

    Loving the old-school dropper post!

    • Samuel Jackson

      Found out recently that someone approached Gary fisher with a dropper prototype in 83 that had bar mounted actuation and he passed on it, because his buddy Charley Kelley was producing the hight rite.

      • Charlie D

        Joe Breeze and Josh Angell designed and sold the Hite-Rite.

        • Samuel Jackson

          Oops that’s exactly right.

  • kasual

    Do bikes get much more interesting or personal than this? I think not.

  • Locke Hassett

    So much yes.

  • Jim Watkinson


  • Holy crap. A just posted a photo about the time I met Bernie Mikkelsen in Yosemite 4 days ago. Nice to see his work out there. He’s an amazing guy.

  • Holy crap. A just posted a photo about the time I met Bernie Mikkelsen
    in Yosemite 4 days ago. Nice to see his work out there. He’s an amazing

    Don’t want the photo to take up space here so you just have to delete the space. /p/Bca60lahGyB/

    • Chris Lowe

      Good to hear Bernie is doing well these days! I wasn’t sure if he was still building following his stroke. I worked at American Cyclery in SF 15+ years ago and we sold a lot of his frames. He made one frame for an absolute giant of customer. I forget the size but it was so tall that no stock steer tube was long enough for the frame so Bernie braze two steer tubes together to make one long enough. Doing that and having the tubes still be straight is some impressive torch work!

      • I think his wife does most of the actual welding but he explains to her exactly what he wants done. That was a couple years ago now so he might even be in better shape now. Dude’s an inspiration.

  • Bluejaystr

    Damn! The thing I like more than the bike is your attention to reader feedback, John! A while back when you shot the Outer Shell operation in the Bay, I asked if you had photographed Kyle’s Mikkelsen but you didn’t have the chance. You may not remember my comment, and may not have shot his bike to fulfill my request (lol!), but thank you for sharing this! Long live the Radavist!!

  • James

    My fave detail? The valve stem nuts as spacers for the front light

    • Sebastian Burnell

      The road brake caliper arm for the front light is a great idea, as well!!! The curve is perfect to get the right distance from the rack.

  • Benny Watson

    “Rival Shifters, mated with an XO front derailleur and a 2x mtb crank to supply crisp shifting on his drop bars”
    So the MTB front derailleur works well with the road shifter? No problems with different cable pull ratios?

    • Its great 90% of the time, since its a double. I’ve been using it for a couple years now.

      • Benny Watson

        Thanks. I’ve always heard that it shouldn’t work right, but I’ve seen so many combinations that shouldn’t work turn out to work at least well enough.

        • My touring bike worked great with a similar setup too. You just have to ease into it a bit more than you would with a road front derailleur.

    • donnie

      10 speed, yes.

      • Benny Watson

        I know it works in the rear since the pull ratios for road and MTB 10 speed are the same. I’m asking about the front.

        • donnie

          Again, Yes with 10 speed. I have had great experience with mix matching all of 10 speed SRAM components, road and mountain.

  • Patrick

    I love the thoughtfulness of this bike! Transcendent. Inspiring.

  • AdamBike99

    The shadows in photo #2 are epic!
    “The man behind the machine…”
    Is that referred to as “foreshadowing?”

  • Bil Thorne

    My fat ass gave up on breaking in a leather saddle but Kyle can do it and he weighs 115 lbs. That’s impressive dedication.

    • Jesse Edwards

      Those saddles look straigh-up awful. Seems like running wagon wheels on good suspension and loving “the feel”. Looks cool, but I’ll take my contemporary saddle with comfy cutout for the sensitive bits anyway…

  • meaty_urologist

    10sp or gtfo

  • Kevin Hall

    hite rite!

  • what´s the rake on that fork? There is not a lot of room btween pedal and front wheel. I am sure there is some thought on choosing that surly fork. Btw … i have a mikkelsen mtb: logo w/ the old font. Long chainstays, tall bb and rear spaced to 130mm. All fillet brazed. I love it.

  • Gerry Weber

    Dumb question, but what is that triangle spring on the seatpost?